Friday, July 31, 2015

Paul Cook's Newsletter Misrepresents What HR 2898 is about--

The Congressional Budget Office says  [https://www.cbo.gov/publication/50389]

1) H.R. 2898 would direct the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to convert water service contracts with water districts in 17 western states to repayment contracts if a contractor requests it. Water users that choose to convert their contracts would be required to accelerate repayment of their share of the capital costs of constructing the affected projects. Under the bill, existing repayment contractors would have the option to repay their share of capital costs on an accelerated schedule.
Based on information from the BOR, CBO estimates that enacting the bill would reduce direct spending by a total of $883 million over the 2016-2025 period. Under the bill, offsetting receipts, which are treated as reductions in direct spending, would increase by $721 million over the next 10 years from accelerated repayments (net of annual payments that would otherwise occur under current law).  Comment: No one is saying IF the water service contractors can afford this nor how much it will increase water costs or increase our water bills!
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2) H.R. 2898 also would repeal the authority to implement the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act (SJRRSA) which CBO estimates would reduce federal costs by $162 million over the next several years. Comment: So the environmental policies passed into law to protect our fisheries and water supplies are getting repealed
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3) Additionally, because the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) expects nonfederal contractors would finance accelerated payments with bonds exempt from federal taxation, they estimate that enacting the legislation would lead to a decrease in revenues of $89 million over the 2016-2025 period. COMMENT: Sounds good until you realize, the bill does not say from WHAT programs the money be taken nor does it say that there are bonds and a market for same!!

4) H.R. 2898 also would allow the BOR, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to respond to drought conditions in western states by authorizing appropriations for projects to store water and by accelerating reviews of permit applications and environmental studies for new water projects. The bill also would decrease amounts authorized to be appropriated by repealing the SJRRSA. Based on information from those agencies, and assuming the appropriation of the necessary amounts, CBO estimates that enacting the bill would increase discretionary spending by $398 million over the 2016-2020 period and by $784 million over the next ten years. COMMENT: Sounds good until you realize, the bill does not say from WHAT programs the money be taken!!
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5) H.R. 2898 would impose intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) by preempting the ability of the State of California to enforce its own water management and wildlife preservation laws. Comment: Cook uses federal law to wipe out control of intra-state water resources--so much for Californians right to govern!

Paul Cook's HR 3176 Vote Shows he doesn't talk with forestry resource people enough

On the forest legislation (HR 3176) I wrote to Paul Cook "aren't you passing more unnecessary legislation and ignoring the real problem--not enough officers and scientists in federal service to protect our natural assets. Passing more laws without trained people to enforce them is symbolic and a waste of paper (more trees). Our forests are dying from arsonists, yes....but the long term killers have been bark beetles (imported from foreign lumber products we did not adequately inspect for infection of because of budget cuts), midget mistle toe (from imported nursery stock and changing Ph in the soils from concrete-type wastes), fugitive dust caused by developers and grading to knock down weeds and fewer grazing animals (deer etc). We need policies that create a healthier forest. HR 3176 is not that".

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Paul Cook (CA-08) Gives Another Gift Tax Cut to the Wealthy in his Latest bill...shame, shame...what programs does he cut to make millionares wealthier??

American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act [HR 1992] sets at 2%, for a five-year period, the royalty rate on the quantity or gross value of the output of sodium compounds and related products at the point of shipment to market from federal land. The royalty rate on the quantity or gross value of the output of sodium compounds and related products is measured at the point of shipment to market from federal land. So Paul, where are you going to get the money to replace this tax cut? Another tax cut for the wealthy! Where is the study which says this will make them )hopefully American and not Canadian or Mexican Mining ventures) more competitive? If China is causing a squeeze, why isn't Cook urging the filing of a WTO complaint and imposing a tariff to protect American producers against unfair dumping? Fortunately, Cook's bill just came out of committee. I would love to see some people who know something about trading commodities look at this joke and kill it!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

HR 832 (Cook's first major bill) Commissions a Study but No Action Plan is Set Out.....

Directs the Secretary of Labor to enter into a contract with a non-governmental entity to conduct a longitudinal study of a statistically valid sample of each of the following groups of individuals over a period of at least five years: (1) veterans who have received intensive job counseling, training, and placement services; (2) veterans who did not receive intensive services but who otherwise received services; and (3) veterans who did not seek or receive services.
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Requires the study to include the collection of specified information for each individual who participates in the study, including:
  • the average number of months served on active duty,
  • the distribution of disability ratings,
  • unemployment benefits received,
  • the average number of months employed and average individual and household annual income,
  • employment status,
  • whether the individual believes that any service received helped the individual to become employed,
  • use of educational assistance,
  • participation in a vocational rehabilitation program,
  • conditions of discharge or release from the Armed Forces, and
  • demographic information.
Directs the Secretary to submit annual reports on the outcomes of the study that include any information the Secretary determines is necessary to determine long-term outcomes of the individuals in such groups.
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You can see the text of the bill at:  https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr832/text

Cook Says he Will Vote Against the TPP Fastrack...I guess the AFL-CIO bought the vote successfully

I called Cook's office urging him to vote against the TPP fast track authorization. His office person (Michael) said he intended to vote against it. I thanked him. Labor's endorsement and funding of Cook over a pro-labor democrat seems to have paid off.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Paul Cook(R-CA-08) and Steve Knight(R-CA-25) VOTE TO CUT BENEFITS TO UPWARDS OF 70,000--Bad news!

Reps. Xavier Becerra of California and Joseph Crowley of New York, the chairman and vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus respectively, told reporters they would not be complicit in passing the fiscal 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill this week that Republicant Congressmen Paul Cook and Steve Knight voted for — a bill they contend would ultimately decimate veterans services, according to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, who addressed the House Democratic Caucus at its weekly closed-door meeting.
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Veteran Affairs Secretary McDonald stated: ‘Please don’t let this funding bill become law [as] up to 70,000 veterans would lose services if the pending bill became law.
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“Virtually, if not every, veteran services organization opposes the cuts in the MilCon-VA bill,” added Crowley, who characterized the bill’s handling of the Veterans Affairs department as “privatizing” the agency, something he called “a farce.”
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While this bill may provide $4.6 billion more in funding for these projects than last year, it undercuts the President’s request by over $1 billion — our service members deserve more.
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The bill provides a total of $7.7 billion for military construction projects (not health care!!)– This includes funds for large and small construction and renovation projects on military bases within the U.S. and around the globe (. Of the amount provided for Military Construction projects, $532 million is provided for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).  This bill funds a program that builds infrastructure to support NATO operations--say what??
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Veterans Affairs is typically the least controversial spending bill, with lawmakers in both parties usually reluctant to cast a vote that could be portrayed as anti-veteran. Obama declined to issue a veto threat on the MilCon-VA proposal on the House floor last year, though the White House Statement of Administrative Policy took issue with numerous provisions.
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Obama’s has stated his intention to veto this time around..and so should we encourage him!!
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Bob Conaway
22269 Miramot Road
Apple Valley CA 92308
(760) 617-8305

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Paul Cook's [R, CA-08] , Pete Aguilar's [D, CA-31] and Steve Knight's [R, CA-25] Vote for H.R. 1470 [now H.R. 2] is the beginning of the end for Medicare....

Repost of a great press release:
[http://www.truth-out.org/…/29890-background-on-the-2015-sgr…]
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Repeal SGR, but Don't Privatize MedicareThursday, 26 March 2015 00:00 By Ida Hellander, Physicians for a National Health Program | Press Release
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The bipartisan "Doc Fix" legislation (H.R. 1470, now H.R. 2) and proposed amendments will undermine traditional Medicare and advance the goal of privatization, according to Dr. Don McCanne in a series of posts to his popular health policy blog, the Quote of the Day. If enacted as it presently reads, it will:
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1. Limit choice of physician in traditional Medicare. Physicians in traditional Medicare would be subject to onerous new documentation requirements for payment and financial incentives to avoid complex patients under the proposed "Merit-based Incentive Payment System." The additional paperwork burden will push physicians to stop seeing patients with traditional Medicare, retire, avoid older and sicker patients, or go to work for large organizations using “alternative payment models” (which are exempt from the requirement and more likely to have contracts with private Medicare plans).
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2. Reduce access to care in traditional Medicare. Imposes a deductible that cannot be covered by Medigap insurance (starting in 2020) to encourage patients to join a private plan. The current Part B deductible is $147 annually, although that figure has been rising in recent years; 95 percent of traditional Medicare beneficiaries have supplemental insurance that covers the deductible and other cost sharing in Medicare. The only way to avoid the deductible in the future will be to join a private Medicare Advantage plan.
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3. Raise Medicare’s costs by driving more patients into private Medicare Advantage plans. Private plans have already cost Medicare an excess of more than $282 billion since 1985. Mandatory deductibles and reduced access to physicians in traditional Medicare will drive more patients into private Medicare Advantage plans, which are more costly than the cost of caring for patients in the traditional fee-for-service program. Although Obamacare was supposed to reduce the amount the private plans are overpaid (the “Medicare cuts” in Obamacare), these have been mostly offset by “adjustments” and “quality awards” by the Department of Health and Human Services.
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4. Undermine Medicare's popular support by requiring higher income seniors to pay higher premiums (means testing). Under means-tested premiums, higher-income individuals will be required to pay larger premiums, undermining the support of this influential group for Medicare program. Although the income subject to extra premiums is high, it can always be reduced in the future.
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5. Ending the SGR should cost $20 billion, not $210 billion. These drastic measures aren't even necessary. According to Bruce Vladeck, a former top administrator at Medicare, “Since the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) was implemented in 1998, total Medicare physician expenditures have exceeded the allowed amounts by only $20 billion (on a total of almost $1 trillion). To recoup that all in one year would require a 21 percent reduction in fees for one year. And those reduced fees would then become the base for payment levels in all subsequent years. In a rational world, Congress would write off the $20 billion as a relatively small policy error and establish a more realistic prospective formula. But under Congressional budget rules, the cost of doing so is not $20 billion, but $20 billion per year, compounded by inflation, times 10 years.”
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6. The GOP sees this bill as a step towards their longer-term goal of turning Medicare into a voucher program for private plans, shifting more costs onto patients. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., a staunch conservative, told the Washington Post he is supporting the bill because it will lead to much greater savings beyond the traditional 10-year time frame for estimating costs. Newt Gingrich stated the GOP’s goal succinctly in 1996: “Now, we don't get rid of it [Medicare] in round one because we don't think that that's politically smart, and we don't think that's the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it's going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it -- voluntarily.”
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7. Other features:
Continues funding for safety-net programs
* Two-year extension for CHIP
* Two-year ($7.2 billion) extension for Community Health Centers
Restricts abortion, adds funds for war
* Makes Hyde Amendment permanent law. Since the ACA is a permanent statute, any amendment to any part of the ACA becomes part of U.S. Code.
* $94 billion in additional military spending in an “off-budget account.”